That's what the very disturbed voice over the phone said, "You home inspectors make things up!"
My answer, "No sir. That's incorrect. Why are you calling?"
"My deck is made of wood that doesn't rot! You said the deck is rotting! I was told it would last forever!"
"Is this the inspection in Happytown VA? Did you not see my report?"
"No. I only needed to hear about it."
This is a phone call based in ignorance and a lack of initiative toward understanding. I have gotten such phone calls before. This was an easy one to deal with.
"Are you at home?" He was. "Can you go out back and look at the bottoms of the deck posts?"
A minute later - "Holy cow! (not the word he used) I was told those posts would last forever!"
Another urban legend rears its ugly head.
So I spent a couple of minutes and taught him about pressure-treated wood.
The first pressure-treated wood was invented by Dr. Karl Wolman in the early 20th century. He developed a water-based process to infuse salts into the wood that would displace the sap and thereby preserve it. And he tweaked his formulas and techniques for decades.
From that start his chemical process went to a CCA liquid - Chromated Copper Arsenate - which was a mixture of copper sulphate and arsenate chromate dissolved in water. Similar chemical mixes were used for decades. In the United States the arsenate (a form of arsenic) was removed from pressure-treated wood formulas in 2004.
This deck was built in the late 80s. It probably used a CCA then. However, there are different uses and grades of pressure-treated woods. For example, stamps can be seen which say things like UC4A (Ground Contact, General Use) and UC4B (Ground Contact, Heavy Use). While it's unknown what grade wood was used for this deck, it could very well be that the common parlance of the era, at hardware stores and used by contractors, was that the wood would last forever.
Of course, that isn't true. This post is rotting and/or damaged by termites. It is compromised. The rest of the deck was compromised as well, with severe splits, cracks, huge splinters and warping. It is basically unsafe. But that's beside the point of the phone call. Walking out onto the very damaged deck, it could truthfully be said that it isn't "rotting!"
My recommendations: home inspectors don't make things up on home inspection reports! The house is the house, the condition is the condition, and those things are observed and reported by the inspector. And it might be worth a smidge of an attempt at trying to understand the report and actually LOOKING at the photos therein to see what the home inspector is saying! Anything less than basic understanding a home inspection report prior to calling anyone about it is lazy and counterproductive. Oh, and remember this news flash: wood decks don't last forever.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560